STEM is more fundamental and essential than ever
Back in 2001, the National Science Foundation introduced the acronym “STEM”, standing for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math. In the decades that followed, educators and schools adopted and expanded efforts to embrace STEM related education. Heading into the new decade, STEM has never been so vital for an education that will prepare students for their professional careers rather than simply building technical competencies within the classroom.
According to DRPFConsuls.com, the National Science Foundation estimates that 80 percent of the jobs available during the next decade will require math and science skills, therefore, young students need to be introduced to STEM education at an early age. While some institutions have embraced early STEM learning, consistent programming during the school day is not a widespread practice.
Today’s children are more familiar with technology than any prior generation, but just being familiar with technology is not enough. Students in 2020 need a solid foundation in STEM to compete in careers where technical knowledge, problem-solving, and relationship-building are essential elements of the field.
Predictions for 2020 and beyond
STEM is a part of our daily lives. Read on to hear my take on the education industry and how the requirements surrounding STEM help leverage technology and computer science in the classroom and impact skills for future careers.
1. The Connection Between STEM and Social-Emotional Learning
STEM curriculum with a computer science focus will not only build problem solving and critical thinking competencies, but will also include opportunities to reinforce social-emotional learning competencies. STEM curriculum helps social-emotional learners develop and apply skills to understand and manage emotions, set and achieve goals, maintain positive relationships and increase problem-solving abilities in real-life situations. When computer science and STEM curriculum are taught only in front of a tablet or computer, it can be very isolating. But, when the curriculum incorporates engaged learning with interactive activities, critical thinking discussions and interactive problem solving, students gain the skills necessary for social emotional growth.
2. Making STEM a part of the school day
STEM curriculum with a computer science emphasis will be more integrated into the school day in 2020. For example, the number of states accelerating computer science into the classroom has doubled since last year. This past November, Code.org published a report stating that all 50 states are advancing policies that support computer science in schools. While each implementation will be unique to the vision and needs of the state, district and schools, the decision-making process will include core questions regarding:
- Who will teach computer science?
- How will we teach computer science?
- How will computer science curriculum resonate with our students?
Computer Science curriculum in all grades should be customizable for the pacing, student outcomes, and instructional needs of each classroom. This helps educators easily teach a computer science curriculum while engaging students of all learning types.
3. Educators and administrators perspective of STEM in 2020
Administrators are currently challenged with:
- Who will teach STEM?
- How will they teach STEM?
- How will STEM curriculum resonate with students?
The first step is getting started in the classroom. Educators can move the needle by making sure the curriculum empowers the educator, builds their confidence, is compliant with education standards, and results in measurable student outcomes. Bringing computer science and technology curriculum out of the isolation of self-paced learning and into the teacher-led, engaged learning classroom, STEM curriculum will introduce students to foundational computer science skills as well as reinforce social-emotional learning competencies, along with math and language arts standards.
Encouraging students to participate in STEM learning could open the potential to pursue a career in the field. A great way to promote that is by tackling real-world problems in educational settings. The engagement of U.S. children in STEM education is the key to companies filling an estimated 9 million jobs in the industry by 2022. With the increased prevalence of STEM careers, it’s up to educators and administrators to ensure their students are college and career ready.